Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu is pushing for the creation of mini “bamboo forests” in all of the Philippines’ more than 1,500 cities and municipalities in an aim to create a nature-friendly, export-oriented bamboo lumber industry.
In a courtesy meeting made by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Representative Dr. Selva Ramachandran, Cimatu said Philippines and UNDP can collaborate in a “community-based mini forest, bamboo plantation, urban forestry” project.
Cimatu specifically requested UNDP if it can possibly design assistance for localities (not within DENR areas) to put up bamboo nurseries. All municipalities can have their "mini-forests."
Ramachandran made the courtesy call to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources secretary together with Edwine Carrie as UNDP’s deputy resident representative and Floradema Eleazar, UNDP Team leader.
Ramachandran said UNDP has received the same request for support for bamboo plantation establishment during his visits to Albay and Cagayan provinces.
He also informed the DENR secretary that Vietnam has a thriving bamboo lumber industry, being a major exporter of bamboo to Canada.
Despite Vietnam’s reported huge bamboo export to Canada, the Philippines has the same opportunities in bamboo products. This is considering the humongous $14 to $15 billion global bamboo trade, according to Agrideco Vietnam.
“While the scale of global trade in rattan and bamboo is up to 14-15 billion US dollar, Vietnam’s bamboo and rattan industry is still sluggish at the export value of several hundred million USD,” Agrideco said.
Bamboo has both the potential to create a profitable industry and to be a tool for controlling soil erosion and sequestering pollutant carbon dioxide (CO2).
Bamboo prevents soil erosion to which riverbank communities have been predisposed to danger.
A hectare of bamboo retains 30,000 liters of water during rainy season. Bamboo also absorbs huge amounts of pollutant carbon dioxide. A hectare of bamboo sequesters 12 tons of CO2.
Bamboo plants are also excellent cover for vegetating riverbanks to protect these from erosion. These have a root system called “rhizomatous” and come in clumps. This rooting system helps keeps soil together.
Another species used in riverbanks is the Iron bamboo Guada angustifolia. It also grows on hilly grounds.
The National Greening Program (NGP) listed bamboo as among the preferred species for reforestation. Bamboo will help boost supply for food, products (timber, fiber, non-timber forest products), services, and provide aesthetic value to the environment.
Bamboo, kawayan in Filipino, has been considered an excellent substitute for many raw materials in different industries. Its charcoal is used as organic fertilizer. Its tall, erect stems and petiolate leaf blades make for good ornamental plants. The specific specie is Arundia pygmae. It decorates the environment well with bonsai.
During UNDP’s courtesy call, possible future collaboration were discussed on the following:
1. The Small Grants Program of the Global Environment Facility (GEF-SGP);
2. Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Climate Finance;
3. Circular Economy, Plastics, and Marine Litter; and
4. Resiliency and adaptation projects on landslide/flood prone areas, and capacity building of local government units (LGUs) on Environment and Natural Resources.